A lot of people struggle with aligning their actions with their ideal thoughts or words. The struggle between how a person believes they should act versus how they truly act can cause internal discomfort, which does not help the external body at all. Mental and physical health go hand-in-hand; conquering both are daily battles. I have struggled with mental health, especially when it comes to thinking about my physical health. One of my main issues is that I posses cognitive dissonance when it comes to my physical health. I was eating healthy and exercising, so why didn’t I feel any better? Despite being familiar with the logistics of losing weight, I make unfavorable decisions almost daily. I thought I was eating healthy, but in reality I would have had a veggie burger and fries for lunch, and a frozen microwave dinner. I thought I was working out, but in reality I was at the gym once a week. I had to take a look at the smaller, daily pictures. The daily habits and the decisions that required cognition. I realized that I will see results if I break a few of my bad habits. I will be outlining these bad habits and ways to break them, if I have not already.
1.Eating too much.
One cause for my over eating is the fact that I was not familiar with proper portion sizes to begin with. So, if I’m eating too much to begin with, then my body would most likely be used to those quantities of foods. I started tracking my food intake and realized I was eating way more than the recommended servings of… everything. I could eat a whole avocado, when I only needed 1/2; I would use way more than 2 tablespoons of oil to cook my food; I would snack on my food while cooking it, and still eat a “full” helping of that dish; I would eat while watching TV or playing on my phone and forget that I ate, I would go back for seconds because I didn’t remember thoroughly enjoying my food. This one bad habit had many faces, but it all stemmed from my own ignorance. A lot of the foods I would eat too much of are calorie dense, which only compounded the issue. I learned about proper portion control when I started logging my daily intake. When I saw how many nutrients the food I was eating gave me, it really put into perspective how much I was over eating. I would also binge out of habit and comfort.
I have recently turned my eating habits around after gathering information from reading books and articles, and watching professionals in the field on YouTube. These worked for me. I started with increasing my water intake. When I’m hungry and under stimulated, I’m probably thirsty. Water also makes me feel “full.” I have started drinking water before and after meals to prevent additional eating. I don’t need more food when the meal I just ate had enough macros, micros and made me feel good. I recently traded in calorie-dense foods for nutrient-dense ones. I’ll have spinach instead of lettuce, I’ll make my own burrito bowl instead of buying a pre-made or frozen one. I also try to make half of my plate veggies. A good habit that I’ve also started to practice is making only enough food for one portion. If there is only one serving available, I won’t be able to grab seconds. If there is any food left over, I will put it in Tupperware before I start eating. If I am still absolutely hungry after eating and drinking some water, I will find a high-fiber and/or water snack (apple, banana, something with oats, celery and peanut butter, popcorn, etc.) I will either meal or ingredient prep to prevent supersized portions. I’m also getting into the habit of planning out my meals and snacks ahead of time, so I don’t stray away from the good stuff.
2. Not Exercising Enough.
I a.) underestimate how much exercise I really need (“If weight loss is 80% food, I don’t need to work out that often.” No. Wrong. Fake news.) and b.) overestimate how much work is being put in. Based on my stats, I should be active for 3 hours per week, and have at least two sessions of strength-building activities. In reality, I’m only active for 1.5 hours per week, which is my weekly gym session.
I have been working on these bad habits by trying to get in some power yoga in addition to my weekly gym session. I have also signed up to participate in my first cycle class. My goal is attending two cardio classes per week, and two sessions of strength training per week. It will be easier for me to come in half an hour before the cardio class to do my strength sessions than to go to the gym 4 times a week. When it gets warmer, I will be taking my dog out for a daily walk. I will also start incorporating at-home workouts in my new routine.
3. Focusing on the goals from the wrong angle.
My main goal is to lose weight. It used to be my only one. I used to think that losing the weight would solve all of my problems. My health would instantly be better! Little did I know, I also needed to take care of myself in the process. I started out with meal prepping bland lunches and would get sick of them by the second day. I would follow YouTube workouts that made me so sore, I ended up falling off the wagon after a day of rest.
For my body to be able to do what I need it to, I had to nurture it. All other bodily processes will fall into line. I switched my goal from weight loss to health gain. I tend to think of food as fuel, not entertainment; exercise as medicine, not a punishment; rest as necessary, not as “laziness”. I base my goals on health by finding healthy habits I enjoy. I will seek out physical activities I like (yoga, walking, lifting, stair climbing, running), and healthy meals that taste good. I have started to use recipes that require foods I like, not something I bought because it was stamped with the superfood/weight loss seal of approval.
I also focus more on health related goals:
❤ How are my bowel movements changing as I eat better? ❤
❤ How am I sleeping when I don’t binge before bed? ❤
❤ How amazing do I feel after cardio? ❤
❤ This shirt fits better! ❤
❤ I can do 5 pushups consecutively! ❤
These behavioral changes may not work for everyone. These are changes I have made and am in the process of making to reach my health goals. I did not implement them all overnight, I have collected the good habits over the last two months.
Let me know what you think of these changes! Don’t be afraid to let me know if they are unclear, or veer off topic; I’m new to writing!
Do you have any bad habits you indulge in? What are some ways you can break those bad habits?